4 trades that make too much sense for the Steelers on draft night

The Steelers showed a willingness to move around last year in the draft, and these four deals could keep that trend going in 2024.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11)
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With the draft almost here, the Steelers have a lot of specific needs, making it hard to mock out a logical path where every major and minor need is met. Because of this, and the fact that Pittsburgh was active in trading last year, I expect them to be moving around once again this draft.

I’ve identified four different realistic trades this team should attempt to make on draft night. Some are purely for draft picks, others involve players. The goal here is to ensure that all needs are properly met and good talent is added across the board. Here are four trades that make too much sense for the Steelers on draft night.

Steelers trade #1: Trade DeMarvin Leal

The Steelers have not gotten what they wanted out of DeMarvin Leal as a former third-round pick. He played all over the place as a rookie with varying success. His second year was a major disappointment. His play was hot and cold and he eventually was benched for Isaiahh Loudermilk.

It seems likely that Leal is on his way off this team right now. Dean Lowry is set to be the top rotational end and there is a real chance a mid-round rookie is added. If so, Leal will be without a home on this team. As a former third-round pick and only two years into his career, there will likely be teams still interested.

I wouldn’t be for much, likely a late-day three pick, but if they get a decent offer in addition to a rookie that they like in the draft, trading Leal makes sense. On the flip side, you can hold him through camp and see what offers come in later. You need to get a decent deal to move him now, but there is little reason not to if it comes in.

Steelers trade #2: Trade down in the first round

While, in theory, the Steelers could go in a multitude of directions in the first round, it seems almost certain that this team targets the offensive line in the first round. This would lead to either a center or tackle being the top pick for this team. While the tackle class is more talented, this team needs a center much more.

If they do take a center, I think trading back for one makes the most sense. This is especially true if they want one of the traditional options not named Graham Barton. Rumors are swirling for a trade back, and it really makes sense given all of the needs on this roster.

Ideally, you move back a handful of spots, pick up an extra third-round pick, and still get that center prospect you covet. This allows you to get some more value for a position that lacks the elite options that tackle has. An extra pick would go a long way given all of the needs.

Steelers trade #3: Trade up in Round 2

On the flip side of things, if the Steelers take a non-center in the first round, it becomes paramount that they get an option on day two. I have said since the beginning of this draft season that the second round should be the sweet spot for the team to land center. The case seems to be mounting as well given the fact that top centers typically fall down the board.

I fully expect Zach Frazier and Jackson Powers-Johnson to fall out of the first round. Frankly, I wouldn’t be shocked if either makes it to pick 51 naturally, as it is rare for more than two centers to go before that pick. That said, to be safe, a move up in the second round makes sense to secure at least one of these names.

You could potentially even see a trade back in round one and then a trade-up in the second round of the draft to land a prospect. Omar Khan has shown an affinity for moving around in his first draft, and they could do the same to meet all of their needs this season.

Steelers trade #4: Trade for Brandon Aiyuk

The last realistic trade to make this year is acquiring a player in exchange for some picks. The Brandon Aiyuk rumors have been constant since the Steelers traded away Diontae Johnson. While the 49ers have been consistent that they don’t want to trade him, he seems more open to a move and it makes sense given the amount of money being spent on the roster.

The receiver trade market is also devalued right now, and Aiyuk is further hurt by the fact that he is due a mega-deal in short order given he is in the last year of his rookie deal. With the likes of Stefon Diggs not going for anything major, Aiyuk may be cheaper than most expect.

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I outlined two deals previously that make sense for him, and I will stand by it. Either a third-round pick and something else small or even a move back in the first round makes sense for this team. It lands them a major upgrade at receiver and opens up the draft to fill their other needs. As long as they don’t overpay, I think a deal like this could make a lot of sense.